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PRECOURSE ASSIGNMENT

Hello everyone,

As educators, we know that this time of the year has the potential to bring up all of the emotions, excitement, and nerves that come with a great deal of change. Often marked by the academic year, we are accustomed to the annual reset or the marking of time constructed by a Western model of education, or the “school.” There is change of season, the challenges and beauty tied into new experiences, the shift from work and play or summertime freedom to a more structured schedule and responsibilities, new educational content, an expected marking of growth and knowledge acquisition, and the never ending journey of finding oneself through it all. In addition to this time of change and perhaps amidst processing a stint of marked time which is coming to a close,  you are all preparing to embark on a three month journey to immerse yourself in a culture, language, environment, and adventure unlike anything you’ve ever done before. Shaking up the transition that is expected at this time of the year and attempting to balance all of the feels of change isn’t always easy – and perhaps it shouldn’t be if we hope to find ourselves in the ever-changing and dynamic world that we live in.

Our time on course challenges the structure of a traditional academic model and while you may be maintaining a similar kind of transition time, there is certainly a twist here. Dragon’s courses aim to be thoughtful, stimulating, dynamic, and engaging. As instructors, we are eager to facilitate an experience that will present you with opportunities and challenges that will allow you to critically think and ask questions. Rather than shifting into a new classroom, school, or grade, you’ll find yourself wandering the desert, living in the home of a stranger, navigating a group dynamic, detached from familiar technology, and observing the norms and values of a lifestyle unlike your own. Although these experiences and opportunities will not always offer you the facts, quantitative data, or the analytical qualities that a Google search or textbook might provide, it will offer you the chance to explore an extremely powerful form of education, in which you will be required to step outside of your comfort zone, be your own search engine through exploration and discovery, and write your own kind of book.

With all this being said, we are fortunate to have access to the research and findings of the many who have explored, discovered, and written before us. As we prepare to leave our technology and many books behind, we ask that you take a moment to dive into some information on Morocco and allow yourself to establish a firmer foundation of knowledge about our journey ahead. This foundation will aid you in the transition forward and the process of experiential learning.

We ask that you complete this pre-course assignment:

Below is a list of six topics relevant to our course. We encourage you to do a little bit of research on each of these topics; however, you’ve been assigned to research a specific topic. Allow yourself to dig into some readings and even images of your topic and take notes! These topics are broad and while we have provided some guiding notes beside your topic, we encourage you to explore your topic in creative ways. We’ll ask each of you to give a short presentation on your topic once we are gathered together in Morocco.

  1. The High Atlas Mountains (where are the Atlas Mountains and who lives there, geology, climate, etc.) – Lucas
  2. Religion in Morocco (Islam in Morocco vs. Islam in the rest of the world, other religions in Morocco) – Cathy and Emma
  3. Amazigh (Berber) people and other ethnic groups (Culture, language, history, etc.) – Eliza and Pablo
  4. Moroccan food and drink culture (Customs, celebrations, habits, manners, popular dishes and drinks, etc.) – Gabe
  5. Political structure in Morocco (History and Today) – Sally
  6. Morocco and the rest of the world (International relations, colonialism, conflict, impact, etc.) – Lauren and Michelle

We also ask that you click here to read Pico Iyers writing on ‘Why We Travel’. 

It can be found and read here:

https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Why-We-Travel.pdf

Finally, please don’t forget to post your self-introduction Yak! We can’t wait to learn a little bit more about you.

In summary, the three things we’re looking for you to complete are:

  • Post your self-introduction Yak 
  • Read the article
  • Get familiar with the topics above and prepare for a short presentation on your assigned topic

A big thank you to all of you for putting forth the time and energy into preparing for this course. We hope that you all have fun with these tasks and we look forward to reading your intros and hearing your thoughts about about what you learned.

Best,

Your instructor team: Kristen, Kevin, and Badr